Do you have recurring dreams? I have all sorts of dreams, usually every night. Many of them, good or bad, are completely nonsensical. People turn into other people, scenes shift, none of it makes any sense. People I forgot existed 10 years ago make cameo appearances. My dream life is kind of fun and trippy. Many other dreams serve to remind me that I am simply an anxious person by nature. And though I worry much less than I used to in my younger days, that pent up anxiety has to work itself out somehow. What I don't burn off through good old fashioned exercise seems to manifest in my dreams.
I was talking to some coworkers the other day, and neither of them dream much. I wonder what that's like, to wake up without trying to piece together what kind of bomb just went off in the junk drawer of your brain. One colleague did admit that he has a recurring dream that he has made a terrible financial decision, and he loses his house and can't provide for his family. Clearly that boring but stressful dream has a direct correlation to a real fear in his life. My recurring dreams seem to skirt my issues a bit, leaving me guessing what my mind is really trying to tell me. Maybe I need a therapist to help me unpack them.
Here are my most common recurring dreams. (Don't worry, they aren't too scary or disturbing!)
- I am sitting at a table, and suddenly one of my teeth feels kind of loose. I try to wiggle it a little with my tongue, and OMG it's VERY loose. Dangling by a thread, even. Surely if i leave it alone the roots will somehow firm back up. Then -- oh horror of horrors! -- the tooth next to it is loose too. My teeth! All loose! Thousands of dollars in orthodontics, for naught! One falls out with no warning or pain. I am spitting teeth. The dream ends when I am holding all my teeth in my hands. Toothless, not sure what to do. --> Recurring for about 10 years now. I've never had a cavity and don't really have any particular interest in teeth.
- I am in high school, taking a break from marching band practice. It's very hot. The impossibly shiny silver trumpet my parents got me when they realized I was pretty good is resting in its case, gleaming, safe, not flung onto the field like other kids' instruments. But, like I said, it's hot. Break over, I pick up my trumpet and I am alarmed that it is soft and pliable, drooping in my hands. I frantically, fruitlessly try to mold the wilted bell back into the shape of a trumpet. It was expensive. My parents are not going to believe me that I was very careful. --> Recurring since about 7th grade, based on genuine fear of denting my real-life silver trumpet. But why do I still have this dream as an adult?
- I am running from something or someone, and it is very foggy. For whatever reason, I must get into the barn at my parents' house. It feels like I am running in jello. My legs will not move faster. All the miles I've clocked on my running shoes are useless to me. I always wake up before I find out what I'm running from, or why the barn holds such significance. --> Recurring since forever. No real context for this one.
- I am nursing Johnnie in bed and doze off. I sink deep into dreamland and realize she's not there anymore. I search the sheets frantically, worrying I've dropped or smothered her. Then I wake myself up, my shirt wet because the dream felt so real my body thought I was actually nursing a baby. I realize she's safe in her bed since I have a strict policy of not falling asleep while nursing her or letting her sleep with us in our bed for that very reason. (Unless it's after her first morning feeding and I'm trying to snooze 10 extra minutes, not falling back into deep sleep.) --> Recurring since we brought Johnnie home from the hospital. This is the only dream I have (maybe the only one I've ever had?) that directly reflects a real anxiety in my life.
So those are it. I don't know much about dreams, but I'm pretty sure these are telling me I need to chill out. Or maybe burn off more steam during the day. Or maybe stop eating sriracha sauce at dinner (which, no joke, always gives me nightmares). Regardless, clearly I'm just wound too tight.
But lest you think I'm one big bundle of weirdness, I want you to know that I do have "good" dreams too, which are of course are my favorite. I wonder, how does one go about having more good dreams?
What do you dream about?